Middle East domino effect reaches China
An attempt to foment a Chinese “jasmine” revolution, following in the footsteps of Middle East protests, was quashed by authorities after a call to mount demonstrations against the government was posted on an internet forum.
By Peter Foster, Beijing and
Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
20 Feb 2011
Large numbers of plain-clothed and uniformed officers were deployed in Beijing, Shanghai and several other Chinese cities after anonymous dissidents issued a call on Saturday to any disaffected Chinese to gather and chant slogans for freedom and democracy.
In the event, the calls appeared not have penetrated far into the consciousness of ordinary Chinese as the authorities censored Chinese microblogs, made pre-emptive arrests of up to 100 known activists and mounted a deterrent show of police presence on the streets.
In Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district, close to Tiananmen Square which was the epicentre of protests in 1989, a few hundred people gathered in front of the McDonald’s restaurant that had been appointed as the place of protest.
They were comfortably outnumbered by journalists, police officers and large numbers of undercover officers, according to those present. No slogans were chanted and no placards were raised, leading one online commentator to describe the event as the “revolution that never was”.
The only overt act of dissent came from 25-year-old Liu Xiaobai who was stopped by police after he placed a white jasmine flower in front of the McDonald’s restaurant and took some photos on his mobile phone.